Red Deer College cuts hurt economy: AUPE

The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees says 34 people lost their jobs at Red Deer College, two more than the number reported by the college last week.

The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees says 34 people lost their jobs at Red Deer College, two more than the number reported by the college last week.

As the result of a loss of provincial funding, post-secondary institutions across the province cut back on spending, resulting in job cuts and program losses at RDC.

An AUPE spokesman said the cuts directly impact the community.

“Taking $6 million out of post-secondary in Red Deer means taking $6 million out of the local economy,” AUPE vice-president Jason Heistad.

AUPE blamed the provincial government for the job losses after the province cut 7.3 per cent from operating funding to post-secondary institutions as part of its March 7 budget.

The cut ended up costing Red Deer College $6 million to balance its $92 million budget. While AUPE said 34 people lost their jobs, RDC said they cut 32 positions.

RDC president Joel Ward said they spoke to 56 people who are affiliated with either Canadian Union of Public Employees, AUPE or the Faculty Association of Red Deer College.

“That’s the number of people we started with in terms of who we met with to whom we have ongoing contractual obligations as per our collective agreement,” said Ward.

“Through redeployment, vacancies and repositioning through the reorganization, the net to institution was 32.”

Those 32 losses were full-time equivalent job positions.

“For example, sometimes two people could have one job so that is sometimes where the two unions and the one association may start looking at numbers differently because they look at people and we look at positions,” said Ward.

Heistad said the number 34 was what staff had reported to the union.

“I’m going from our people and those individuals were involved in the meetings with RDC,” said Heistad.

In total, 65 people no longer are employed by RDC, but about half of those were contracted employees.

Ward said the college issued more than 1,600 T4 slips last year, but have about 700 full-time employees.

“The other 900 are contract workers who have a contract that starts and ends,” said Ward. “When the contract ends, we have no further obligation to them.”

Sometimes the work doesn’t change and year to year the same person may get the contract over and over again.

The distinction is that those who are laid off are full-time employees and the college owes them severance. Contract workers just don’t always get a new contract should the college need to balance its budget by adjusting the number of contract positions.

“We don’t count them because we didn’t lay them off, we just didn’t renew the contract,” said Ward.

Ward said they used a formula created by the Department of Advanced Education to arrive at the number of jobs cut.

“If you were to ask the faculty president, the CUPE president or the AUPE president, you would get different numbers from all three of them,” said Ward.

“These numbers come directly from our human resource department.”

Programs are also suspended fairly frequently. Ward said the automotive service technician certificate program that was suspended this year would have been regardless of the provincial funding changes.

Heistad said the concern AUPE has with the cuts is how it will impact students in departments such as information technology services, student advisors, recruiting and student support.

“Especially in their first couple of years, those students are really relying on those services,” said Heistad. “Assisting them with planning and getting them into the system and making sure they have the correct career paths.”

mcrawford@bprda.wpengine.com

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